Harnessing the Potential of Divine Principle

By David Burton

An important thread to my spiritual life and time in the Unification Church has been the idea that science and spirituality should come together and work in concert — that there should be one unified worldview, not a worldview splintered and fractured into different parts. 

On and off for the last twenty plus years, I’ve been exploring how we can develop a theoretical basis for achieving this unity derived from the ontology of Divine Principle and Unification Thought. In the course of that work, I’ve come to believe that in the 1980s there was a real opportunity for such unity to develop, but something was missing from the mix. 

Today, I feel we are again at a point where that unity can be achieved. Alison Wakelin’s recent blog article on this site, “Science, Unification Thought and a Post-Materialist Era,” reports that among scholars in the field there is a growing sense of approaching a paradigm shift. 

Here, I briefly address what happened within Unificationism and what I see as the potential of Divine Principle for today.

When I first heard Divine Principle in 1979, I was a graduate student in chemistry and just starting out on my spiritual journey. I was impressed by the respect shown to science and excited by Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s work to bring science and spirituality together. 

Perhaps the very first gift from my spiritual mother was a bound copy of the proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS). This respect for science was one of the important reasons for my joining the church. When the Level 4 Divine Principle text came out, it was a major step forward, but it wasn’t until six years later that I got my own copy of the Brown Book.

In the Brown Book, the general introduction is a work of art and should not be overlooked. It sets the stage for the purpose of Divine Principle itself, and the parts related to science deeply resonated with me. From the most recent translation:

Eventually, the way of religion and the way of science should be integrated and their problems resolved in one united undertaking; the two aspects of truth, internal and external, should develop in full consonance. Only then, completely liberated from ignorance and living solely in goodness in accord with the desires of the original mind, will we enjoy eternal happiness. (Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 3)

Continue reading “Harnessing the Potential of Divine Principle”

Science, Unification Thought and a Post-Materialist Era

Science, even physics, has in recent years moved much closer to Unification Thought, which certainly places life, especially human life, as the center of the universe.

The over-specialization of the past meant that an astronomer well-versed in planetary astronomy may know almost nothing about the research of the early universe astronomer in the office next door. However a concerted effort to encourage interdisciplinary research over the last two decades has brought about a newly-integrated understanding within science, a much more comprehensive picture that incorporates many diverse fields.

As a result of the rapid pace of discoveries in biology in particular, the importance of life and the recognition of much more about the mechanisms of evolution have changed our thinking of the role of life and consciousness.

Books such as Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe by Robert Lanza have been transformational, especially in allowing the average academic to feel more confident in publishing on controversial topics. Philosophy is experiencing an upsurge with the popularity of panpsychism, and old philosophers long overlooked have experienced a revival in popularity, as the themes of their writings have become the themes of today’s science.

In early December, a conference entitled “The Primacy of Consciousness” was convened under a partnership between the Galileo Commission, the Academy for the Advancement of Postmaterialist Science, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, and the Scientific and Medical Network in the UK. Scientists and thinkers of all varieties gathered virtually to discuss consciousness from their own perspectives as physicists, biologists, psychologists, etc. There was a strong feeling among the 700 participants that we are finally witnessing the breakthrough to a new paradigm.

The very basis of Unification Thought is precisely the new paradigm toward which science is moving.

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Identity Politics, the Post-Truth World and Constructivism

By Gordon L. Anderson

The bitter partisan divisions in American politics have several roots: political, economic and cultural.

In my 2009 book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0, I explain how a number of the political roots, like viruses, particularly through political parties, have hijacked the political system. The economic roots of the struggle essentially boil down to whether policies support an economy based on production for all (a win-win market economy) or taking from one group and giving it to another (a win-lose, hunter-gatherer economy).

This article focuses on the cultural roots of the struggle, looks at how deconstruction brought a crisis to post-modern thought, and considers whether a “constructivist” approach can overcome that crisis.

Several articles on the Applied Unificationism Blog have sought to understand the evolution of the idea of “truth.” Dr. Keisuke Noda discussed (July 23, 2018) the correspondence theory of truth, coherence theory of truth, pragmatic approach to truth, existential approach to truth, linguistic approach to truth, and an integral approach to truth.

I followed up (March 11, 2019) with a discussion of how our level of consciousness affects the way in which we understand the truth. I showed a cultural development of theological consciousness, metaphysical consciousness and scientific consciousness in the study of scripture and also argued for an integral understanding of scriptural truth (inherited cultural narrative).

The Death of Truth

However, we now find ourselves in a world where a significant part of society considers we are in a “post-truth world.” The April 3, 2017 TIME magazine cover story, “Is Truth Dead?” was a replica of TIME’s “Is God Dead?” cover story from April 8, 1966.

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The COVID-19 Pandemic and America

COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the U.S. by county, June 10, 2020.

By Ronald Brown

In April, as I sat in lockdown in my Queens apartment, blocks from Elmhurst Hospital, ground zero for New York City’s pandemic treatment, I tuned to radio news hourly, religiously followed the BBC, PBS Newshour, network news, virus specials on television, awaited the morning clap of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal on my doorstep, and consumed articles in magazines.

As of mid-June, the daily death toll in the City is now around 20 (down from a peak of as much as 1,200 per day in April), over 120,000 have died nationwide (6,500 in the borough of Queens alone), shutdowns and lockdowns in the City are just beginning to ease, and many fear a coming second wave of infections, likely a result of lifting stay-at-home restrictions too soon.

I am not the ordinary citizen lamenting home imprisonment, teaching on Zoom, not finding the right foods in the supermarket, and receiving news of friends in the hospital, quarantine or morgue. I am a news junkie, but also a professor with a BA and MA in history from Gannon University and the Hebrew University, an MTS in theology from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Geneva.

From my balcony in Queens, I witnessed the racing ambulances on Queens Boulevard, scalpers selling overpriced face masks, my downstairs neighbor coming home late at night from nurse duty, and two elderly neighbors peering through covered windows. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans fought in Washington. With major corporations declaring bankruptcy, unemployment rising close to 16%, pastors and rabbis insisting on their religious freedom to gather their followers, and armed militias unwilling to sacrifice their American freedoms for the common good, I couldn’t help but ponder, “whither America?”

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An Economic System That Honors Our True Purpose

By Alison Wakelin

Confined to our homes by a virus for which we are severely underprepared, the whole world is faced with the inadequacies of our systems.

We Unificationists, in particular, because of our high ideals, are challenged to reassess who we are, what values we are expressing in how we live, and how can we choose the best path to a future that manifests our vision for one united world (see my previous article on this site).

Besides the obvious failures of the healthcare system, from the perspective of a Unificationist, we can see that our current Western economic system fails to serve our deeper purposes in life in many ways. We spend most of our lives in debt, trying to catch up, and figuring out how to pay for healthcare, education, etc., instead of being able to invest time and love in our children.

Given that we expect to live in an eternal world after this, how can we design an economic system that allows for the greatest freedom to make our own decisions, and that enables personal growth?

Humans grow by receiving love, and by giving love, by investing effort, through relationships, by exercising their own responsibility towards living a life of value fulfillment. We grow by living for both the whole purpose and the individual purpose, and especially through investing in our children and communities.

Indigenous communities sustained their way of life throughout thousands of years, supported by nature, and without destroying that natural world. Despite its technological achievements, Western thinking, originating in Europe but now worldwide, has led us to the brink of destruction of the natural world, as now seen in the sudden clearing of atmospheric pollution as human economic activity is forcibly shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Submissions Invited for “Where Do We Go from 2020?”

The Applied Unificationism Blog invites special submissions to be occasionally published between now and January next year of your vision of “Where Do We Go from 2020?”

Emphasis should be on practical steps for the future that the Unification Movement should take on the worldwide, national and local levels after the upcoming commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s birth and the 7th anniversary of Foundation Day.

Theological issues may be discussed, but the focus should be on their practical implementation in society. Submissions from second generation Unificationists are especially welcome.

Submissions should be between 1,200 (minimum) and 2,000 or so words. All AU Blog guidelines apply. Please send your submissions to the managing editor, Dr. Mark Barry, at m.barry@uts.edu. The AU Blog editorial committee makes recommendations for publication and may suggest revisions to the author.

During this period, the AU Blog will continue to welcome and publish a full-range of articles exploring the application of Unificationism to the wider world.♦ 

The Concept of Truth and the Interpretation of Scripture

By Gordon Anderson

In most seminaries and academic institutions, since the rise of critical methods of scholarship, scripture has been studied by applying methods of literary and historical criticism.

Literary criticism views scripture as human writing that conveys moral lessons, values and truths rather than the direct writing of God. Yet, it does not deny the existence of God or imply that the writing is not important to read for attaining a better personal life, a better world or closeness to God.

Historical criticism investigates the historical world around the origin of the ancient texts to better understand the worldviews that shaped the writing and aids dating of writings and events.

Here, I propose the concept of “truth criticism” as a further tool of scriptural analysis.

Theories of Truth and the Interpretation of Scripture

One part of the truth criticism I propose is based on an integral view of truth. On this site last year, Dr. Keisuke Noda described four theories of truth that have evolved since ancient times. These are: the correspondence theory of truth, coherence theory of truth, pragmatic theory of truth, and existential theory of truth. Since each of these approaches describes ways in which something can be viewed to be true, the integral theory of truth Dr. Noda proposes enables us to see in which ways something being studied is “true” and which ways it is not.

For example, historical criticism tells us that the Ten Commandments are very similar to core elements of the Hammurabi Code found on a stone stele in Persia, now on display in the Louvre. This seems to disconfirm the “correspondence theory of truth,” or literal interpretation of the Bible, that these commandments were introduced by a supernatural event in which they miraculously appeared on tablets in Mount Sinai. Those commandments were part of a larger body of knowledge that Moses could have inherited and believed to be essential conduct for a godly society.

The idea that the commandments were emblazoned by fire from a supernatural being could well be a literary device.

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Physical Proof of Spiritual Energy

By Lloyd Pumphrey

There are “invisible” spiritual influences which affect people without their realizing it.

This article considers phenomena that reinforce and may prove the existence of these non-physical forces.

Initially, I intended to research “physical proof of spirit world.” However, after consideration and discussion with others, I realized there is no way to “physically” prove the existence of spirit world.  The only way to prove its existence is to open one’s spiritual senses.

There have been many attempts to demonstrate the existence of spirit world, such as The Afterlife Experiments by Gary E. Schwartz. The major flaw in these experiments was the participation of well-known spiritual mediums.  This is evidence that the only proof of spirit world or afterlife is the testimony of those who can, or have, seen it for themselves.

For the skeptic, in order for an experiment or proof to be valid, anyone should be able to experience it. For example, it is impossible for a male to experience the pain of childbirth.  He can see it, empathize with it, share the experience with his wife, but cannot feel the actual pain of childbirth.

The same goes for spirit world. Most people cannot see or feel spirit world; therefore, it cannot be proven to a skeptic on a basic level.

However, by considering proofs of spiritual energy, we may come to an understanding of it as a building block of the spirit world. Spiritual energy can and has been measured for some time through various means.

External evidence of spiritual energy

Qi is vital energy that is held to animate the body internally and is of central importance in some Eastern systems of medical treatment (such as acupuncture) and of exercise or self-defense. It is the Chinese term for spiritual energy. There have been countless books written on Qi, but some of the most convincing proofs are filmed demonstrations that can be viewed on YouTube.

Several Qi masters, including monks and healers, have allowed themselves to be filmed showing their ability to control people’s movements without touching them, setting paper on fire, turning mud into dust, and treating patients.

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Climate Change and Citizen Involvement

By Rob Sayre

At an October meeting in South Korea, the working group of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a revised report on the Paris Climate Agreement. It makes new forecasts, based upon new data assuming average world temperature rises 1.5 degrees C. compared to 2.0 degrees.

In my earlier article on this blog, “Climate Change: Rethinking the Debate,” I argued that only using one metric was insufficient and proposed others. This article considers the implications of the new IPCC proposals to help people understand them and offer some new thoughts and solutions. It is meant to complement Dr. J. Andrew Combs’ article last week on this site.

Probability vs. prediction

Conveying large and complex concepts and data that include probabilities can paralyze the general public. People confuse these with predictions like the weather forecasts they use everyday to plan their commutes to work and daily life. Probabilities with degrees of confidence do not mobilize people to act. Why is this?

Two cognitive biases come into play for both ardent believers in climate change and those who think it is a hoax.

The first is anchoring, the tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information when making decisions (usually the first piece of information acquired on that subject). We tend to incorporate how we see an issue in its most simple explanation. This is as true for “deniers” as for “believers.” These labels by themselves say a lot about the veracity of this bias.

Those who doubt humankind’s role in climate change also show another bias: the ambiguity effect, the tendency to avoid options for which missing information makes the probability seem unknown. Very simply, complex probabilities that form the basis for assessing climate change seem fantastic and unrealistic for many.

Everyone is comfortable with predictions in weather, economics and elections to some degree. We accept that, within a margin of error, we are able to order our lives and make decisions. Probabilities, especially when they involve large sets of data, the climate, world GDP, exchange rates, and elections set for a time in the future, can be easily discounted.

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